Many people don’t realize it, but children can often be at even higher risk of sinus problems than adults due to their not-yet-fully-developed sinus cavities. Their sinuses may not drain properly, or may even drain too often, but since their heads haven’t yet taken on the shape of an adult, their symptoms may be different than an adult with a similar condition.
For example, because children have smaller ear canals, they are frequently at risk of things like swimmer’s ear (also known as Otitis externa), where water gets trapped inside the ear and allows bacteria to breed. The reason this happens so often in children is because the water’s surface tension makes it easier to bead up and get stuck inside the tight confines of a smaller ear canal. To make matters worse, children are exceptionally bad at expressing their symptoms in a useful manner so a parent may have no idea why their child is having problems hearing, or constantly has a runny nose.
Here are just a few of the symptoms that may be related to sinus problems in your child:
- Chronic runny nose
- Frequent throat-clearing
- Chronic strep throat
- Chronic tonsillitis
- Difficulty hearing
- Breathing disorders
- Discolored nasal discharge
- Puffiness around the eyes
- Frequent ear infections
These aren’t problems that are usually life-threatening but, left untreated, they can make all the difference in your child’s life. They can affect academic performance, sociability, athletic ability, and more. If you see any of the above symptoms in your child, please make an appointment to see an ENT specialist to have your child evaluated for sinus problems. Don’t let their sinuses interfere with one of the most important, influential periods of their life!
Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT